The ACAI Blog

Gardening jobs for May

by Talitha Palmer Roberts on May 16, 2023

Gardening jobs for May

We asked ACAI friend Shannon a.k.a. Diary of a Lady Gardener what we should do in the garden through May.


May is a busy month for gardening, as the weather is warming up and plants are growing rapidly. Longer days and more chance of sunshine also mean that it tempts us outside more readily with less need for heavy layers. The Outdoor Dungarees are just the perfect gardening attire with pockets for seed packets and snips as well as a super comfy, super stretchy material. It won’t be long now until the shorts come out! Here are some of the gardening jobs that you can get up to this May:


Successionally sow crops

For a longer harvest season, May is a great time to start successionally sowing crops between 2 weeks and a month after your first sowings. Carrots, beetroots and salads are great examples of crops you can successionally sow throughout the year, all of which can now be sown directly outside for ease. It’s also a great opportunity to also intercrop between vegetables that have a long growing season such as parsnips, you can sow fast-growing crops like salads and radishes between the rows to maximise your growing space. 

Shannon kneeling next to raised bed, sowing seeds between beetroot

Plant out crops

Late April/May is when the last frost typically occurs in the UK which means that you can finally start planting out tender plants into their final positions. When you’re planting, ensure to water them before planting out, and water them in once they’re in the ground to help them to establish a strong root system. If you’ve still got seeds to sow such as pumpkins, sunflowers and squashes, many of these can be sown directly into beds, saving you the hassle of pricking out and potting on, just ensure you give them a little bit of protection if your plot is prone to birds and squirrels who may like to nab your seeds.

Shannon in green house with seedlings

Chelsea Chop

Lots of herbaceous perennials benefit from a prune in the springtime to ensure maximum yields for the year ahead. May is the time of the ‘Chelsea Chop’ which is particularly beneficial to plants that have a tendency to become leggy or floppy, which promotes bushier growth and delays flowering which is particularly useful for herbs such as mint, sage, thyme and oregano. Roses and fruit trees however are best pruned are also best pruned in early spring, doing so too late may result in a delay in fruiting or flowering. 

Shannon is shears pruning shrubs

Garden maintenance

Whilst it’s best to leave the grass to grow wild for #nomowmay, ensuring vital insects have plenty to eat in this low-food time of year, there are plenty of other garden maintenance jobs to be getting on with. The warmer weather and smaller plants also offer the opportunity to give any sheds, garden buildings and fences a lick of fresh paint ready for the summer. Give your garden a good spring clean this month and you’ll certainly be grateful for it later in the year.


Build your plant supports

It’s best to stake your plants as soon as they’ve been planted out to give them the best chance of survival, whether that’s by building a trellis for your sweet peas and beans, or building a beautiful archway for small climbing pumpkins to grow up. There’s so much you can do with a few garden canes and a piece or string, whilst those of you with a keen eye for DIY might want to construct something more long-term which you can use year after year to support your fruits, flowers and veggies.

Shannon kneeling next to raised bed putting supports in for young plants

Spring is such a wonderful season in the garden with changes happening incredibly quickly. Most importantly of all, make sure that you set some time aside to simply sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour, be it watching the tulips dance in the wind or sipping a cuppa whilst you marvel at the mighty seedlings you’ve recently planted out.


If you’re looking for more inspiration on what can be done in the garden at this time of year, head to @diaryofladygardener! 


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